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Synopsis

Winner of the 2013 ACT Book of the Year Award

Cross-dressing convicts, effeminate bushrangers and women-shortage woes – here is the first ever history of sex in Australia, from Botany Bay to the present-day.

In this fascinating social history, Frank Bongiorno uses striking examples to chart the changing sex lives of Australians. Tracing the story up to the present, Bongiorno shows how the quest for respectability always has another side to it.

Along the way he deals with some intriguing questions – What did it mean to be a ‘mate’? How did modern warfare affect soldiers' attitudes to sex? Why did the law ignore lesbianism for so long? – and introduces some remarkable characters both reformers and radicals. This is a thought-provoking and enlightening journey through the history of sex in Australia.

With a foreword by Michael Kirby, AC CMG.

Shortlisted, 2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards
Shortlisted, 2013 NSW Premier’s History Awards


‘Remarkable and highly readable’ —Michael Kirby

‘A great book, a compound of wit and tragedy, as you’d expect from the subject matter, plus wide learning and common sense.’ —Alan Atkinson, author of The Europeans in Australia

The Sex Lives of Australians is such a treasure trove that it is hard to do it justice … a work of real significance that makes a fresh contribution to understanding our culture.’ —Australian

‘This is highly readable, serious history about our most intimate yet most culturally sensitive selves.’ —Canberra Times

‘A fascinating tale.’ —Sydney Morning Herald

‘An engaging book…both educational and entertaining’ —Daily Telegraph

‘Entertaining, enlightening, infuriating and frequently hilarious. Highly recommended.’ —MX Sydney

‘Engaging, open-minded and humorous.’ —Bookseller + Publisher

‘An invaluable reference for anyone with an interest in Australian history and sex.’ —David Hunt, author of Girt

Frank Bongiorno is associate professor of history at the Australian National University and author of the award-winning The Sex Lives of Australians. He has written for the Monthly, the Australian and Inside Story.

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